Belated Race Reports: Strawberry Fields Triathlon & Camarillo Duathlon

I won’t go into too much detail here, but I didn’t want you to think I wasn’t racing at all this summer–I am! I did! My favorite race, the L.A. Triathlon, is next weekend & I can’t wait for that fun challenge. I’m pretty sure it’s going to be my last triathlon of the season (unless I’m still inspired to do another in October), and then I’ve decided to run a half marathon & possibly L.A. Marathon again this year. I miss long distance running! My older brother is running now, and it’s making me jealous! Thanks John for buying me my first Garmin Forerunner (sorry I broke it already). I can’t wait to see how this watch changes my run times.

So back to races, Strawberry Fields was my birthday weekend & I just LOVE this race. I will do it every summer. First, the bike and run is super flat. Sure, hills can keep it interesting, but flat roads keep it fast! Second, it maintains a “small town feel” even though it’s not that small of a race. The transition area is on a field of grass as opposed to hot asphalt & already I feel like I’m in the country. I placed 3rd last year, but I also knew the swim distance was off last year. It was REALLY short, so I was hoping for that again. But no, looking out at the buoys, they actually measured it correctly this year. I knew in that instance my hopes of placing were not great. I haven’t been in the ocean ONCE this year–besides races. I just decided I really don’t like it, and the tri club stopped doing my favorite Wednesday “interval” swims—so I just wing it. The waves were pretty intense, but I didn’t go horribly off course or anything. It felt like an OK time, nothing great. My bike and run were a pleasant blur. I probably should’ve pushed a bit more on the bike, but the run felt much better than last year’s. It’s never a great feeling to be suffering terribly on the run–even if it’s just a 5k…3 miles of feeling like total crap can seem like hours. But I felt good & kept my pace. I ended up placing in 4th (I thought I was 5th, but I just rechecked the times & was ALMOST on the hay podium!), but everyone gets a medal and strawberries, so I left happy. It always feels good just to have a smooth race–sure, it makes you think you could’ve gone out a little harder, like maybe it shouldn’t have been THAT smooth. But overall, I was happy. So happy, I stopped at McDonalds for a post race treat. I haven’t been there for years for breakfast, it felt so indulgent and greasy.

In August, I raced the Camarillo Duathlon–really not too far from Strawberry Fields. Another flat race. This is a series of three–the courses remain the same, but I just raced one this year (and last). This really is a small town race, so I love it for all the reasons I love small town races. You can show up 30 minutes before the race starts, not 2 hours like some bigger races. You can see all your competition pretty much the entire race. You end up running next to a 10 year old, but you’re both super serious like you’re in the Olympics, not thinking “Wow, do I look strange as a 33 yr old racing a 10 yr old on this dirt road next to this airport?” I love that we run right next to an animal shelter & hear 50 dogs barking (not the most calming sound as you’re trying to pound out the miles).

The distance is short: 1.5 mile run/11 mile bike/1.5 mile run, and I already knew the course from last year–so I felt good. I knew once the run started that I would place & was just trying to keep track of which place I would be in. There were a couple of girls in front of me (one I swear cheated & didn’t do the bike portion of the race, but I’ll refrain from trash talking too much), but one I passed right away on the bike & the other (cheater) was just roaming around the transition area–not even trying to hop on a bike. I remained in that position throughout until another girl challenged me on the bike in the last mile. I love that stuff; it’s when it really starts to feel like a race. I’m super fast in transition (wish there was just an event for changing clothes, I’d win!), though, so I’m in front of her for the run & all of a sudden the girl beating me in the first run hops onto the run course & zooms past me. I think, “is this a relay race?” because it’s weird I never saw her on the bike & yet she’s right behind me on the run–the bike has lots of turns, so you can see a good deal of the race behind and in front of you. Anyway, I just keep focusing on my race & come in second place overall female. Third place rolls in & tells me that I was first & the other girl must’ve been doing a relay. But turns out, there was no relay–and I end up in SECOND. Not bad, but terrible when you think OMG, I won the whole thing!!! And when you’re convinced 1st place cheated. Also, they didn’t have any of their winner sweatshirts in stock & promised to mail me one. Well, a month later & I’m still without a sweatshirt. Time to send an email. Oh, in case anyone searches Camarillo Duathlon & comes across this site, I’m not really convinced that 1st place cheated. It’s just a better story, guys. Do this race! It’s fun times!!!

OK, be on the look out for one more race report after next week’s triathlon. Have a great week!

Arizona Vacation Solo Style

I’ve been back from Arizona for over two weeks now, but I enjoyed it so much I figured it was worth a post. I feel like I used to take solo trips all the time–mostly road trips. My last one was last Christmas, but since it rained every second of every day, it felt a little less like a vacation. As you probably know by now, I love being alone. No offense to you or anything, but I’m a fan of quiet. And I’ve yet to find someone whose schedule and idea of a “fun time” matches my own, so it’s nice to be able to take a week and just do what I want to do. There are many benefits to being unattached & not “settled down” yet–and this is a major one. Oh Kristy, what if you die alone, you say? Eh, I don’t think I’ll mind, as long as I can still make myself some iced coffee & sit outside & watch the sunset & play games on my phone.

Let me start by saying, yes, it was 110 degrees in Tuscon…record highs. So there is no way I could be outside 24/7. I knew this going into it, though, so I was up at 6am everyday for my bike rides & inside by about noon everyday until afternoon/evening (when it barely cooled).

I stayed at an awesome resort–also a tennis/golfing club–with a Jr. Olympic-sized pool! The room was really a suite–sofa, flat screen, dining area, full kitchen. It was amazing!!! More than I had hoped for & a steal at $60 a night (plus the $20 resort fee, still a bargain). My first afternoon there, I went grocery shopping & got everything I would need for the week. I also spent my first evening researching bike routes & found a good one I would try out. My only requirements were that they start from the resort itself, so I wasn’t packing my bike in the car & driving somewhere to ride–I had no desire to be in the car until my drive back home.

My schedule didn’t vary much through the week. My 6am rides were by far the highlight. The sun was coming up, other cyclists were out & the riding was just beautiful. Every road had full on bike lanes, which is unheard of in L.A. So regardless of the amount of traffic, I felt safe and at ease the entire ride. I rode for 2+ hours each time out & each time varied the route. There were some decent inclines, rolling hills, and flats–just enough to make for a perfect, challenging ride. Since I started cycling several years ago, I do dream about living in a town like this that really is bike friendly. I do plan on at least visiting these towns & vacationing with me and my bike. So fun! And you can see so much more of the city/countryside when you’re cycling vs. running (unless you’re an ultra runner, which I’m not).

After my bike rides, I would come in & fix myself some oatmeal & coffee, messing around on the internet & just being lazy. When I was done with that, I would head out to the pool. This pool was a dream for me because it was almost always empty. No worrying about sharing lanes, so no worries about what speed you’re going or what drills you’re doing. Total freedom. I loved it. After about 30 minutes in the water, it was time for my favorite part of the day. Getting my cup of iced water, changing from my Speedo to a bikini, & laying out by the pool (with ridiculous amounts of sunscreen on) with my book & ipod. I would sit around until it was too hot & go back in for lunch.

What did I do all afternoon? I can’t really recall. I had some party planning work to do for the business, tried to clean up my email inbox, read some business books, came up with some marathon training, watched cheesy movies, napped…yes, there were a couple of dull moments in there–but not so much that I actually was motivated to leave the suite. Well, except for the last day when I went out for some nail polish. I thought about maybe visiting a museum or doing some shopping, but it never happened. I was happy to keep everything as simple as possible.

I tried to fit in a tiny workout in the gym (weights) or a really short run outside in the evening around sunset & then say myself in front of the TV for some quality prime time viewing in the evenings (Bachelor Pad, Big Brother, etc). I was in bed by 10 at the latest. I was so happy with the trip. It felt like the kind of “training week” I’ve been wanting to do for a long time–where instead of frantically trying to fit my workouts into my life, the workouts became the centerpiece of my days. I really could spend one week a month doing that. OK, honestly, I could probably spend my WHOLE life doing that.

I came back to almost sudden post-vacation depression. It was back to work, back to the business, back to kid parties & horribly long meetings & the start of another school year. GUYS, where is the 3 hours + a day I need for my quiet, outdoor workouts?? Long gone. I promised I would start getting up super early to do pre-work workouts–and although I made it to the pool (barely) two days last week, I failed miserably in other attempts for morning workouts. I came home from work tired & not motivated to get outdoors. Arizona, I miss you!!!

Now, the depression has lifted & the balance is starting to come back. I still have my weekends for awesome workouts & still working on how to better fit weekday workouts into my schedule. I’m finally adding some distance to my runs & went out for an awesome 8 miler this morning. I went for a fast bike ride yesterday & at one point was going 23 mph on flats & in some kind of weird trance state. It felt amazing.

I have come to terms with my training this year not being as consistent as the last few years–basically has felt like training to maintain, which is never fun in a sport where you continually try to get better. But, I’ve started a new venture & that takes time, so I’m just learning how to fit it all in. And if that means one week of concentrated workouts followed by 2 weeks of mediocre ones, hey, that’s what it means.

So, already planning my next training vacation–even if it’s just a long weekend. Southern (and Northern) California is full of bike friendly pockets I can explore. It is good to remind myself how much I love being outside & moving. And how lucky I am that I am healthy enough to do this–there is never a run or a ride where that doesn’t cross my mind. Back to my Bicycling magazine, so I can check out some of the other great cities for cycling…